Posts Tagged ‘marqus blakely’

Fans pick Blakely, but will the coaches?

March 2, 2010

University of Vermont star Marqus Blakley was voted the America East Men’s Basketbball’s Fans’ Choice Player of the Year, the league announced today. Is that a good thing? Keep reading. Here’s the America East’s release:

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — University of Vermont’s Marqus Blakely and the University of NewHamphire’s Alvin Abreu were recognized by America East on Tuesday for their respective accomplishments this season. Blakely was tabbed this season’s selection as the 2010 America East Men’s Basketball Fans’ Choice Player of the Year while Abreu was named 2010 America East Player of the Game.

Blakely (Metchuen, N.J./Metchuen), who ranked near the top of almost ever statistical category, receives the Fans’ Choice honor after being named America East’s Kevin Roberson Player of the Year in each of the past two seasons. He ranks second in scoring (17.4 ppg), second in rebounding (9.1 rpg), fourth in assists (3.7 apg) and leads the conference in both steals (2.6 spg) and blocks (1.9 bpg). The senior forward received just under 30 percent of over 3,500 votes in the final round. Stony Brook’s Tommy Brenton finished a close second, garnering 29 percent of the final tally.

Abreu (Lynn, Mass./Boys to Men (Ill.)), who ranks seventh among league leaders with 14.6 points per game, received the most Player of the Game honors during the season to garner the end-of-year award. He became the 27th Wildcat to score his 1,000 career point earlier this season, which came against Hartford on Feb. 6.The Player of the Game award was determined by tabulating award winners from the regular season. At the conclusion of each home game, a player was named the Player of the Game. Just one player was tabbed in non-conference games, while a player from each team was recognized during conference games. Hartford’s Joe Zeglinski and Binghamton’s Greer Wright were the other top recipients.

The league’s annual awards, including the all-conference teams, as well as Player, Rookie and Coach of the Year, will be announced at the championship awards banquet on Friday, March 5 at 4 p.m. in Hartford, site of the 2010 of the America East Men’s & Women’s Basketball Championship Presented By Newman’s Own.

It’s a nice accolade for Blakely. Unfortunately for him, it might also mean he will not win his third straight America East Player of the year. Inexplicably, the fans’ choice and Player of the Year have always been different players. I doubt that’s coincidence.

Player of the Year – along with several other all-conference accolades — are voted on by the league’s nine coaches. Well Blakely be the first to snag both awards in the same season. We’ll find out Friday.

Gracious farewell

March 1, 2010

Photo by Shane Bufano

When Marqus Blakely — UVM’s strong, tough and poised basketball standout — has tears gushing from his eyes, you know it’s a poignant moment.

A week after sending off the UVM women’s star-studded senior class, the Catamount men’s program bade farewell to one of its brightest stars Sunday at Patrick Gym.

Blakely has more than 1,800 points and 1,000 rebounds. He has 156 dunks. And he’s on the brink of win his third consecutive America East Conference player of the year award. No wonder the sold-out crowd of 3,266 belted out a long ovation during a “Senior Day” ceremony to show their appreciation.

The feeling was mutual.

Shane Bufano snapped some great photos of the scene. Here’s the emotional comments from Blakely, some of his teammates and his coach after Vermont wrapped up a  22-win regular season by beating Binghamton at Patrick Gym:

Senior forward Marqus Blakely: “It didn’t really hit me until 10 minutes before the game, and I realized that all my family is here, friends, fans; literally everyone was here to see the seniors. Hopefully we will be able to come back here and play in the championship game here, but if not, it’s really been a great four years here. I wouldn’t change anything about it. Vermont is a great place, especially being a student-athlete. I just want to say thank you to all the fans, my family and friends.”

Senior guard Maurice Joseph: “It was very emotional for me. You think back at your journey, you think about the path that you took to get to this very point. Starting out at Michigan State, you think back at all the lessons coach (Tom) Izzo taught me. You think back at the transfer process, and coach (Mike) Lonergan taking a chance on me and allowing me to come here and do a lot of good things in my career. All these things go through your mind. Your family is here, your friends are here. It’s just an emotional day and I’m just happy we got a win.”

Head coach Mike Lonergan: “We have great fans. I’ve been here five years and we’ve sold out every ‘Senior Day.’ I told our guys that’s really something you should appreciate, it doesn’t happen in many places. No matter what our record is or who the opposing team is, 3,266 (fans) are here. It makes it really fun to coach here and it makes rewarding to be a player at Vermont.

“Those three seniors are special. I’m hard on them because I want to get a lot of them, I really do. I want them to leave here with no regrets.

“We get good kids here in every sport. It’s really fun to coach true student-athletes. This is a special place, so hopefully we can keep this season going.”

Sophomore guard Garvey Young: “I definitely felt a sense of pride and a sense of family with these guys to play my heart out and send them out on a good note. It was definitely motivational just seeing the support from the fans, the emotion, and just the love in the atmosphere.”

Hoop Cats’ fans: Let’s say goodbye again.

February 28, 2010

They rose with the united voice of 3,000, saying goodbye to the seniors of the University of Vermont men’s basketball team at Patrick Gym on Sunday afternoon, but they didn’t mean it; at least, not with all their hearts.

Oh, they appreciated all the wins and spectacular moments, the effort and the hard work this UVM threesome has given them, but, really, the 3,000 were expressing their love with just a bit something held back.

Like the hope this wasn’t the last time Marqus Blakely, Maurice Joseph and Nick Vier tormented opposing teams at Patrick Gym.

It was an emotional few minutes as Vier, Joseph and finally Blakely were called to center court, parents in tow, to receive the adulation of the 3,000 one more time. Joseph tapped his heart, waving to the fans in appreciation, and Vier acknowledged the moment with a salute to both sets of bleachers, but the most touching scene was Blakely’s mother gently reaching up to wipe the tears from her son’s face.

Still, as much as the 3,000 genuinely bid thank you, everyone present knew everyone was thinking , “One more time!”

Such as in the championship game of the America East tournament.

That’s not entirely in Vermont’s hands, but neither is it impossible. Stony Brook has the top seed and home court for the finals if it advances. That’s something UVM can’t control; as the No. 2 seed, the Catamounts will be in the opposite bracket for the quarterfinals and the semifinals, assuming they advance, and Stony Brook cannot be one of those opponents.

So some other team must take out the Seawolves on the first weekend, opening the door for one final reunion of Blakely, Joseph and Vier with the adoring Patrick denizens. Message to the 3,000: root as hard for whoever plays Stony Brook as you root for UVM.

Sunday, against Binghamton, first Vier, then Joseph departed late in UVM’s win to standing ovations. Blakely was the last to leave the floor, and he stooped to kiss the Catamount logo at mid-court.

It was a genuine gesture, but believe this: He would love to have the opportunity to do that one more time, just as the 3,000 sincerely hope Sunday wasn’t the Patrick farewell for him, Joseph or Vier.

Cats’ non-league game has value

February 20, 2010

The University of Vermont’s involvement in the ESPU Bracketbuster’s today has no bearing on the America East Conference standings and the final result, in the grand scheme of things, is of little importance. But here’s a few reasons to care about the UVM men’s basketball team’s 2 p.m. contest against Fairfield …

  • This game offers fans another chance to see the Cats at home. That might not sound like much, but the Cats have played 19 of their 28 games this season on the road.
  • Fairfield is the real deal. The Stags, 18-8 overall, are tied for second place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Freshman point guard Derek Needham, the team’s leader in scoring (16.1 ppg) and assists (143), is a strong candidate for the MAAC rookie of the year. Fairfield lost 69-67 to mighty Siena two weeks ago.
  • A win today would boost the Cats’ RPI, a factor in determining postseason seedings. “If we are able to reach our goals and win our league, or even go to the NIT or another postseason tournament, it will help our RPI because Fairfield is having a great season,” UVM coach Mike Lonergan said.
  • There might only be two chances left to watch Marqus Blakely play in Patrick Gym. Three, max.

Blakely out does himself once again

February 4, 2010

Just when you thought Marqus Blakely’s highlights couldn’t get much more impressive, he does something like he did Wednesday night in a win crucial win over Maine.

Just ask Maine’s Terrance Mitchell, who was  posterized by the University of Vermont’s high-flier. Blakely soared over Mitchell on a fast break, threw down a massive dunk and drew a foul on the play. It whipped Patrick Gym’s fans into a frenzy during the first half and set the tone for a 64-51 win, which boosted the Catamounts into second place.

Was it among his top-five career dunks, I asked during the press conference?

“I was just talking to (UVM sports information associate) Ben Dickie about that,” Blakely said. “He said it was top-5. I said it  was top three. I mean, we’ll see.”

And there you have it. Perhaps no one will be happier to see Blakely graduate than Maine coach Ted Woodward, who has probably lost count the number of times Blakely has lit  up his squad.

“We knew we just couldn’t allow (Vermont) to get some easy baskets early and I think they just do a wonderful  job of getting easy baskets, whether it’s offensive rebounds or fast breaks or points off  turnovers,” Woodward said. “You look at  the first-half stats and that was the majority of the point that they got. That’s what they feed off of. Obviously Blakely has a lot to do with that. He’s the guy that creates offense off of  his defense and has been doing it in his entire career.

“And obviously that’s a big reason that the crowd gets going,” Woodward. “It’s just how he plays and the energy he brings to the building.”

****

While Blakely was the show stopper, teammate Garvey Young was the unsung hero.

Although the sophomore guard didn’t score a point, his defense was the chief reason Maine’s Gerald McLemore, who was averaging 14.5 ppg coming into the game, was held to five points on 2-for-10 shooting.

“Not too many times you see someone score zero points and have a huge impact on the game,  UVM coach Mike Lonergan said about Young. “I thought his defense was incredible on McLemore, who is one of the best scorers in our league.”

High praise for Catamounts

January 20, 2010

After his team fell 78-66 on Tuesday night at Patrick Gym, University of Hartford coach Dan Leibovitz showered the University of Vermont men’s basketball team with praise.

“They just have guys who have gotten better over their careers here. Marqus Blakely, as good as he is, he’s come back with a different dimension in passing the ball. They have balance. He’s someone you have to think about doubling. We started off playing him single coverage, but when you go to double him you really pick your  poison,” Leibovitz said. “(Joey) Accaoui has gotten more and more confident. (Evan) Fjeld moves really well without the ball. Garvey Young, Maurice Joseph. They all know how to play around him and with him very well.

“And I think this is one of the better defensive teams that Mike (Lonergan) has had.”

Taking advantage of the single coverage, Blakely scored 16 of his game-high 24 points in the first half. It seems Blakely always has monster performances against the Hawks. Remember in a 2008 game against Hartford at Patrick Gym when he had 30 points, 20 rebounds, six blocks and five steals?

I asked Leibovitz if Hartford has match-up problems with Blakely?

“Who does Blakely not give match-up problems with?” he answered. “We tried everything. … He’s a special player; he’s a guy who comes along not too often.”

*****

The Catamounts were on the verge of posting another blowout win, but Hartford’s Joe Zeglinski poured in 4 3-pointers and 20 points, and the Hawks pulled down several offensive rebounds in the second half.

“Zeglinski’s a good player and hit some tough shots,” UVM coach Mike Lonergan said. “What really hurt us, it seemed like 6 or 8 possessions in a row, they got an offensive rebound. So you play good ‘D’ for 20 or 30 seconds and then they got another possession. It’s hard to rebound with long 3s; a couple of them were air balls or bricks. That kind of wore us out.

“But I thought we did a good job at the end.”

*****

UVM senior guard Maurice Joseph had a season-low three points and played only 24 minutes. Feeling ill, he left the game for a six-minute stretch of the second half.

“He had class and didn’t eat a pre-game meal, so he felt a little dizzy,” Lonergan said. “He says he didn’t eat enough before the game. But he’s fine.

“We’ve got to get him shooting the ball better. He’s been our most consistent shooter all year, but the last two games he was 2-for-12 from 3s.”

*****

Here’s my game story and Tweets from UVM’s win over Hartford. Be sure to pick up Thursday’s Free Press for a preview of the Catamounts’ home game against Stony Brook.

Catamounts’ human air show

November 11, 2009

air marqus

Seems everyone likes to talk about Marqus Blakely’s dunks, so I’ll do a little more of it here.

Every year I feature a senior for my UVM basketball preview, which will appear in tomorrow’s Free Press. I asked Blakely what his favorite dunk was in his first three years as a Catamount. Like all of us, he enjoyed the infamous one in the 2007 America East title game against Albany, but he favored the sky-high jam he threw down last season against Colorado in the Rainbow Classic.

When was his first dunk? “It didn’t come until my junior year of high school,” he said.

It’s hard to imagine a time when Blakely was unable to dunk, but he said during his sophomore year at Metuchen High in New Jersey he was only 5-foot-7 and played on the junior varsity team. Then came a growth spurt before his junior year, when he sprouted to 6-foot-3.

I talked to Blakely’s high school coach, Rich Stoner, in 2007 for a feature story, which was topped with the headline “Soaring Potential.” Here’s an excerpt from the story that I dug out our archive:

Metuchen High School coach Rich Stoner doesn’t know Blakely’s exact vertical leap, but had an indicating story.

“He won a slam dunk contest at an all-star game last year. He pulls this 6-foot kid out of the stands, tells him to stand under the basket, then dunks right over him,” Stoner said. “He’s thrown down some amazing dunks in the last couple of years.”

More impressive, Stoner said, was Blakely’s 22 points and 22 rebounds during the Middlesex County championship game. And the regular-season game that he cashed in 33 points and double-digit rebounds, blocks, steals and assists — a.k.a. a quintuple-double.

“He was one of the leading shot blockers in the state as a 6-foot-4 wingman,” Stoner said.

A star was born. For all his athleticism, Blakely’s basketball skills were unrefined coming out of high school. Blakley elaborated why he chose Vermont instead of exploring dunkavenues to a bigger college program.

“A lot of people coming out of high school think going to a Big East team or an ACC team is what their dream is,” Blakely said, “but there’s a lot of things that go on, like recruiting over top of people. That’s one reason I chose Vermont. The main reason is because Vermont is parellel to my high school.”

Blakely said Metuchen is two square miles and his graduating class consisted of 100 students.

Blakely is a two-time America East player of the year and defensive player of the year, making it hard to believe he averaged only 13.4 minutes and 5.8 points a game his freshman season.

“Marqus has a good feel for the game; he’s not just one of these guys who can only jump out of the gym,” UVM coach Mike Lonergan said. “He’s a better passer than people ever give him credit for. He’s unselfish. He’s a special player and he’s had a monster career.”

The Blakely file

Age: 21

Hometown: Metuchen, N.J.

Vital statistics: 6-foot-5, 225-pound forward … 36-inch vertical leap … 7-foot wingspan. … 275-pound bench press … 350-pound squat

Career statistics: 94 games, 77 starts … 13.4 points a game … 7.6 rebounds a game … 187 blocks … 141 steals. … 27 double-doubles. … 1,268 points, ranking 15th in program history.

Accolades: Two-time America East player of the year and defensive player of the year. … CollegeInsider.com Mid Major All-American. … Associated Press All-American honorable mention.

Did you know? Blakely is the only returning player in the nation to win his conference player of the year award the last two seasons.

***

Much more on Blakely — as well as a big feature on UVM women’s basketball stars Courtnay Pilypaitis and May Kotsopoulos — in Thursday’s Free Press.